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Amaya Coppens, Political Prisoner, again, Brutalized by Ortega’s Police

The 5th year medical student spent four days in an isolated punishment cell in the infamous "El Chipote" jail

Student leader Amaya Coppens Zamora, 25, was brutalized by the Ortega regime’s police for the four days following her arrest on Thursday, November 14.  The police kept her isolated for this entire period in a punishment cell at the infamous “El Chipote” interrogation prison.

The young woman, of dual Belgian and Nicaraguan nationality, was illegally detained, together with 12 other young people, for bringing water and medicine to ten mothers of political prisoners who are holding a hunger strike in the San Miguel Arcangel Church in Masaya to demand the liberation of their sons.

The punishment cell consists of two concrete beds with moldy mattresses that precipitated an asthma attack in the young woman. There’s a closed cement sink for water in the cell, but it was dry on Friday when Coppens was closed in there, and she spent two days with no water to drink, since the tap can only be opened from outside the cell.

Amaya’s parents informed Confidencial that she’s now been removed from that cell and transferred to a shared cell with two other young women.

The prison guards finally turned on the water on Saturday night, but then left it running until noon on Sunday, so that it overflowed and flooded the floor of the cell.  In addition, the noise kept the young prisoner from sleeping, according to a report from Maynor Curtis, Coppens’ defense attorney.

The tap was once again opened on Sunday night and left that way through Monday morning, when Coppens was transferred to the Managua courthouse where she was accused of arms trafficking, together with another 15 Nicaraguans. 

The church where 13 of them had brought bottles of water was completely cordoned off isolating fourteen persons, including the 10 mothers on a hunger strike and the priest Edwin Roman. Ortega’s Police had also cut water and electricity to the church since last Friday.

Amaya Coppens (second from the right) and the rest of the young people were presented in prison garb to the government media by the police on Monday, November 19. Photo: CCC

Without light or ventilation

In the punishment cell there’s a hole some four inches in diameter to keep the cell from flooding when the tap is left on.  The same orifice served for the young woman’s physiological necessities.

The report describes the cell as completely closed, lacking in sunlight and ventilation. It’s illuminated by a bulb that’s kept on 24 hours a day, and which also made it difficult to sleep. The prisoner could distinguish day from night only when they brought her food. 

Beaten during her arrest

The lawyer indicated that Coppens was beaten during her arrest, resulting in visible black and blue marks on both arms and on her shoulders, plus scratches along her abdomen. She also has abrasions on both wrists, as a result of the “extreme” tightness of the handcuffs put on her. The report adds: “Her index finger has restricted mobility due to the blows to her right hand.

Likewise, the guards didn’t give her the medication she takes for her problems with arterial pressure, despite the fact that her parents had given it to the jail authorities.  As a result, on Friday night she was taken on an emergency basis to the medical outpost in the jail “where she received four different pharmaceuticals.”

Judge informed

Curtis emphasized that the police abuse and the precarious jail conditions Coppens was subjected to were reported to Acting Judge Cruz Zeledon from the Fifth District Courtroom for Penal Hearings. Judge Cruz then ordered the legal medicine team to conduct a medical evaluation and dispatched a memo to the Department of Corrections that all the new prisoners should receive the same “jail treatment”

This is the second time that the regime has imprisoned Coppens. Last year, she was accused of terrorism, then let free in June of 2019, under the provisions of a controversial Amnesty Law that the regime unilaterally approved.  This law freed hundreds of political prisoners being held on false charges, but also gave a blanket amnesty to the police and paramilitary accused of killing hundreds of Nicaraguans during the civic rebellion of 2018.

Families wait outside the Managua courtrooms to receive information about the political prisoners detained in Masaya. Photo: EFE / Confidencial

The student leader was detained after attempting to bring water and humanitarian aid to the mothers being held by the police inside the San Miguel Arcangel church in Masaya. After leaving the aid, the young people got into their vehicles and headed for Managua but were intercepted by police patrols some three blocks later.

In addition to Coppens, the others accused of the invented crime of arms trafficking are: Neyma Hernández Ruiz; Ivania Alvarez Martínez; Wendy Juárez Avilés; Olga Valle López, Olama Hurtado Chamorro, José Medina, Hánzel Quintero Gómez, Atahualpa Quintero Morán, Jesús Téfel Amador, Roberto Buchting Miranda, Melvin Peralta Centeno, Derlis Hernández Flores, Marvin López Ñamendiz, Wilfredo Brenes Domínguez, Jordan Lanza Herrera.  Thirteen of the sixteen youth are members of the Blue and White National Unity movement.

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